Face Coverings

In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • Public transport
  • Indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • Shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • Indoor shopping centres
  • Banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave.

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings are also needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are advised to be worn in care homes. Individual settings may have their own policies and require you to take other measures.

Where this law does not apply

Face coverings are required to be worn in any shops, including food shops and supermarkets, but are not required in hospitality settings, including restaurants with table service, bars, and pubs. They are also not required in entertainment venues (such as cinemas or casinos), visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums), exercise and sports venues (such as gyms).

Where a shop is within another premises which does not require a face covering (such as a museum or other visitor attraction) they are required in the shop only. Check for signage upon entry and exit to know when this is the case.

When you can remove a face covering

You can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink if reasonably necessary (see Section 3). This should be in an area that is specifically for the purposes of eating and drinking, such as a food court.

If a shop or supermarket has a café or seating area for you to eat and drink, then you can remove your face covering in this area only. You must put a face covering back on once you leave your seating area.

The government’s guidance for keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services clearly advises that designated indoor seating areas for customers to eat or drink should at this time only be open for table service, where possible, alongside additional infection control measures.